Dark-eyed juncos are small birds that can be found in many parts of North America. They are beautiful birds with striking black and white feathers and bright red eyes.
They are also a great source of entertainment, as they can be quite curious and friendly when they are comfortable in their environment.
Attracting dark-eyed juncos to your yard is not as hard as you might think. With a little bit of knowledge and some simple steps, you can easily create a welcoming environment for these beautiful birds.
Here are 10 ways to make your backyard a haven for dark-eyed juncos.
1. Create A Safe Space For Dark-Eyed Juncos
Dark-eyed juncos need a safe place to eat, nest, and rest. Creating a safe space for them to rest and hide from predators is essential to making your backyard a desirable home for them.
Make sure your yard is free of potential predators, even your own cat.
Planting dense shrubs and trees with thick branches is a great way to provide them with safe places to hide. You can also add birdhouses to your yard, which provide the perfect environment for dark-eyed juncos to nest and rest.
2. Dark-Eyed Juncos Are Loyal Guests
A bird with a great memory, the dark-eyed junco remembers where great food sources are and will return to that location again and again.
You can encourage – and reward – this loyalty by keeping a bird feeder filled with their favorite foods and supplementing it with natural food items that the dark-eyed juncos can forage for themselves.
Planting native shrubs and trees that produce berries will also help attract them to your yard. Providing these food sources will help create a hospitable environment for the juncos and make them more likely to stay.
3. Offer Them Their Favorite Foods
Seeds are the primary food of the dark-eyed junco. Their favorites are hulled sunflowers, white proso millet, and cracked corn.
Dark-eyed juncos prefer to forage for seeds on the ground, therefore, they may not visit hanging bird feeders.
Try scattering seeds on the ground for them or using a low platform feeder. You can even place the seeds in a shallow tray and set it on the ground for them.
4. Shovel A Winter Feeding Patch For Dark-Eyed Juncos
Since dark-eyed juncos are ground feeders, snowy winters pose a challenge for them.
Keep them coming to your yard by clearing snow from a patch of ground near their favorite nesting spots. Sprinkle seeds on the shoveled ground for them.
Alternatively, you can place a tray full of seeds directly on top of the snow or underneath an overhang. Try setting the dark-eyed juncos’ seed tray under a picnic table or similar spot to keep the snow off it.
5. They Are Also Loyal To Water Sources
Just as they remember great feed sites, dark-eyed juncos will also remain loyal to their water sources. They need to have access to fresh drinking water.
Place a bird bath in your garden and regularly fill it for the dark-eyed juncos and other bird visitors to your yard. There are even heated bird baths on the market that will prevent the water from freezing in the winter.
In lieu of a bird bath, you could also construct a small pond in your garden.
6. Grow Seed-Bearing Plants To Attract Dark-Eyed Juncos
Plant native, seed-bearing plants in your garden and landscaping. Good options are chickweed, marigolds, purple coneflowers, sunflowers, and ragweed.
In the fall, allow these plants to go to seed and naturally drop their seeds for the dark-eyed juncos to find.
7. Give Them Plenty Of Shelter
Include dense shrubbery, low evergreen bushes, and small trees in your landscaping. These all offer dark-eyed juncos much-needed shelter from potential predators and from the elements.
Avoid pruning your bushes and shrubs in the fall. You might be removing sheltering spots for dark-eyed juncos.
Wait to do your pruning in the spring.
8. Dark-Eyed Juncos Can Be Timid And Skittish
Timid, shy, and skittish, dark-eyed juncos are easily scared off by loud noises, commotion, and sudden disturbances. If you want to make your yard a haven for these birds, try to keep the noise level down and avoid abrupt sounds.
Attracting dark-eyed juncos to your backyard isn’t an overnight process. It may take some time for the birds to get comfortable in their new environment, so don’t be discouraged if you don’t see them right away.
As long as you keep providing them with food, water, and a safe space, they will eventually find their way to your yard.
9. Give Dark-Eyed Juncos Prime Nesting Sites
You can encourage dark-eyed juncos to build their nests in your yard by offering ample places for nesting sites. The birds usually make their nests in low bushes or trees.
Make sure there are sources of moss, fine grasses, pine needles, and even animal fur in your garden. Dark-eyed juncos used these materials in their nest building.
10. Keep Stray Cats Away
The number one predators of the dark-eyed junco are cats. Since the dark-eyed junco feeds on the ground, it is easy prey for a pouncing cat.
If you have a house cat, either keep it inside or prevent it from going into your garden.
Stray and feral cats are usually a bigger problem. If there are feral cats stalking the birds in your backyard, contact your local animal control officer to have the cats removed.
You cannot create a sanctuary for dark-eyed juncos and other wild birds if you have these predators lurking around.
Dark-eyed juncos thrive in residential environments. You can create a welcoming place for these birds by offering the right food, fresh water, and sheltering spots. Be patient. The dark-eyed juncos may need some time before they trust the safety of your yard, but once they do, they will remain loyal and frequent guests.